The Lewiston School District plans to keep all of its classified staff employed through the Idaho State Board of Education’s mandated closure of schools.
During a school board meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Bob Donaldson said the district will abide by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure classified staff, like paraprofessionals, food service employees and bus drivers, remain safe while engaging in meaningful work.
“I think it might serve to really relieve some anxiety, because I’ve had classified employees reach out (to me about their jobs),” Donaldson said “I hope this is good news for them.”
District staff will report to work Monday, although many teachers will work remotely.
Kimberly Eimers, the district’s director of student services, said supervisors will outline work assignments and expectations for the classified employees.
The workers, according to Donaldson, are deemed essential, and therefore allowed to work following Gov. Brad Little’s issuance of a stay-at-home order.
During the meeting, the school board approved the district’s coronavirus response plan as required by the Idaho State Department of Education, outlining how the district will operate during the “soft closure,” which will last until at least April 20. Students won’t be allowed in classrooms, but the district will continue to provide education and essential services.
Administrators are still finalizing plans on how to offer educational opportunities for students during the extended closure, but Lisa Fenter, the district’s director of curriculum and assessment, said remote learning will begin Monday.
Teachers will contact parents at the beginning of next week to see what kind of technology or internet services families need in order for their students to complete their assignments from home.
“The most important overarching goal is we need to come together to do the best job we can to provide remote education and learning for our kids,” Donaldson said.
The work aims to maintain the skills students have already learned, so no one falls behind. That plan may change if the closure is extended further.
“We’re building the plane as we are flying the plane,” Fenter said. “We all have to allow some grace of one another ... as we just take it one step at a time.”
It’s unknown if students will receive a grade for the work they complete. Fenter said the district should have an answer to that next week.
The district is also evaluating options to deliver meals via bus routes.
Free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch items will continue to be offered to students 18 and younger on weekdays. Meals can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Jenifer and Sacajawea junior high schools, and McGhee Elementary School.
The district will also offer child care assistance for families of first responders and essential medical care personnel starting Monday at Whitman Elementary School.
“We need to have (those people) at their jobs in the field helping to mitigate and slow the virus,” Eimers said.
More information about child care is available by calling Whitman Elementary School at (208) 748-3850.
It’s still unknown if students will have to attend school during the summer months because of the closure.
The school board also canceled its work session scheduled for Monday.
Tomtas may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.